LONDON (Reuters) – The Olympic Games should be postponed with immediate effect to protect athletes against the coronavirus pandemic, says Callum Skinner, head of the competitor-led movement Global Athlete.
The International Olympic Committee said on Sunday it would begin discussions about postponing the Games as it stepped up its “scenario planning” after widespread calls from athletes for the event to be shelved until the crisis dissipates.
“To be clear I think the Games should be postponed. I think it’s the best option, or it’s the least worst option available to us now,” Britain’s cycling Olympic champion Skinner told Reuters TV before the IOC made its announcement.
“I think it’s quite often misunderstood that athletes, especially Olympic athletes, are some kind of superheroes that are immune to everything. We’re not and we can suffer from illnesses and injuries just as much as anyone else.
“As far as I’m aware none of the athletes have contracted the virus that I’ve spoken to but the whole poin of athlete health is really important.”
Founded in February 2019, Global Athlete describes itself on its website https://globalathlete.org an “athlete-led movement that will inspire and lead positive change in world sport”.
Skinner, a gold and silver medallist in track cycling at the 2016 Rio Games, said the Tokyo Olympics should be held as a unifying event once the virus, which has claimed over 13,580 lives worldwide, has been properly dealt with.
“I think the IOC are presented with an amazing opportunity to try and bring the world together when we see the other side of this pandemic,” added the 27-year-old, who was named Global Athlete’s lead athlete when the group was launched last year.
“We’ve seen them do it before when they put out North and South Korea under one united Korean flag and that’s the power of sport and that’s the power of the Olympic Games.
“So, they’ve got an amazing opportunity here to postpone the Games and then bring the world together after we see the back of this virus.”
(Reporting by Tim Hart in London; Writing by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)